The U.S. Has Problems in Ferguson. And That's Creating Problems For the U.S. in Russia.

Thousands of people across USA gathered in remembrance of victim, 14 August 2014, by Cynthia Rucker. Demotix.

Thousands of people across USA gathered in remembrance of victim, 14 August 2014, by Cynthia Rucker. Demotix.

Russians are beginning to turn their attention to violence in the American city of Ferguson, Missouri, where heavily armed police have clashed with locals, following protests against the murder of an unarmed African-American teenager named Michael Brown. So far, most Russians watching the unrest in Ferguson have taken it as an opportunity to criticize the United States, arguing that America exaggerates its progress in race relations. For Russian “patriots,” that is, Russians who support the Kremlin’s frequent demonization of the United States, the violence in Ferguson is welcome confirmation that Americans are nobody to lecture Russia about proper policing or social justice.

Many Russians on Twitter have taken to comparing images of heavily armed police in Ferguson to familiar photographs of American troops abroad.

This isn’t Iraq and it isn’t Afghanistan. It’s a police officer in Ferguson targeting a new victim. The U.S.A., the state of Missouri.

The top photo is of the American army in Iraq. The bottom is police in Ferguson. #USA #Differences

@McFaul Obama isn’t satisfied killing Libyans, Syrians, and Ukrainians, [so] U.S. officials have sent the police to go kill Americans. #Ferguson

Though many in the United States are rubbing their eyes in disbelief at the shocking footage coming out of Missouri this week, Russians have been absorbed in developments much closer to home. Even now, most people on the RuNet appear to be writing about events in Ukraine, where a series of resignations unexpectedly swept the separatist leadership yesterday. Meanwhile, a convoy of 280 trucks carrying humanitarian aid has been traveling from Moscow to the Ukrainian border for the past several days. When it arrives, it’s unclear if border guards will negotiate with the Russian drivers, do nothing, or open fire. Not surprisingly, some Russian Internet users have responded to the Ferguson story with allusions to the conflict in Ukraine.

Egor Prosvirnin, editor of the Russian nationalist website “Sputnik & Pogrom” and a vocal supporter of Ukraine’s separatists, has written several popular jokes suggesting that Obama will be forced into exile like former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych before him. (When Yanukovych fled the country, protesters raided his presidential palace, discovering absurd displays of wealth, including gilded bread. Yanukovych found refuge in Rostov, inside Russia.)

All in all, it seems that the Americans have started their own Maidan in Ferguson. Soon they’ll catch Obama with golden bread loaves at the border with Mexico.

What do you think? Should Russia grant Obama asylum in Rostov after the Ferguson Maidanites seize Washington?

Others joked that Igor Strelkov, until yesterday the military commander of the Donetsk separatists, must have quit Ukraine to fight in America’s new war.

Strelkov went to Ferguson, in the state of Missouri.

Some online are asking why Russia’s liberals—whose attitude about the West is typically aspirational—have remained largely silent about the events in Ferguson, where the U.S. witnessed what was effectively a 21st century race riot. Admittedly, the question isn’t altogether fair, given that Russia’s news media is currently focused very narrowly on events in Ukraine. That said, Russian-American journalist Julia Ioffe did manage to grab the attention of Petr Verzilov, husband of famed Pussy Riot front-woman Nadezhda Tolokonnikova. Verzilov tweeted a link to Ioffe’s story in The New Republic:

Read how @JuliaIoffe compares riot races in America to protests in Russia—and not in America’s favor!

As Ioffe argues in her article, the violence in Ferguson is sure to damage America’s reputation abroad, especially in places like Russia, where the state has tirelessly demonized Western meddling in international affairs. Early reactions to Ferguson on the RuNet confirm that the United States just made its work in Russia much harder.


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